SC Comicon

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Even though in recent years Myrtle Beach has not one but two comic conventions (XCon and Myrtle Beach Comicon), I have been keeping an eye on SC Comicon in Greenville. Last year it was the same weekend as XCon and even so I was tempted to go as it had the far superior guest list. I like the Greenville area but haven’t been there since a now defunct hot air balloon festival a few years ago, so some year seems like it would be a good idea to go.

I’ve been listening to the podcasted recordings of panels from this year’s event published by The Dollar Bin podcast. It is impressive how good each and every one of them has been. Even though I am grumpy about media guests, the panel with John Wesley Shipp was one of the best I’ve ever heard for a genre actor.

I think I have to make it a priority to push this con up the stack. They haven’t named a date for 2016, but one of these years I need to go. The previous two years have ranged from March to May, so I assume next year will be somewhere springish. I can only hope the dealer’s room is to my liking, which is less about geegaws and DVDs and toys, and more about boxes and boxes of cheap old comics. If so, step over me as I hunch over the boxes with my list until my aging back gets too sore. I can’t wait.

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Around the Podosphere

Here’s a few things that have struck me as interesting from my recent listening.

I’m a fan of Harry Shearer’s Le Show and the July 20th episode featured a lot of talk with John M. Barry, a writer and expert on New Orleanian issues. I liked how Mr. Barry debunked the whole ridiculous “why rebuild a city under sea level?” meme quite well. If you are at all interested in New Orleans, the failure of the federal levees and related topics, I recommend this for a listen.

I continue to be interested in minicomics. I’ll be honest, most of my inspiration and excitement that I get from DIY media lately has come from the minicomics community. I really want to find a place where I can send them some dough and they’ll send me a grab bag of mixed stuff. I’m interested in the medium but the search costs are high. I do love when I can get a nice compact burst of information on the topic, which I did get from this Dollar Bin recording of the minicomics panel from HeroesCon. This panel had a lot of Alec Longstreth in it. This does make me realize that I need to go to Lulu.com and buy the collection of his minicomics.

I like listening to SModcast and I don’t begrudge the boys making some money, particularly when they are paying a dude to edit and lay in their music bed. Considering the music bed is really the third guy on the show, it’s a significant part of the program. However, their Think Geek sponsorship on the show I listened to today was painful. It was goofy and all and in the kind of style I like to do mine, but damn it felt like it went on forever. I checked the MP3 player and it was a little under 3 minutes but it felt like 10. I’d suggest after about a minute, y’all stop. Past that, you subtract value and make me pissed off at Think Geek. I’m just saying.

Recordings and SF Conventions

Tom Spurgeon points out that the panels he moderated at Heroes Con were recorded for posterity by the Dollar Bin guys. I’ve been listening to these and really appreciate them since I wanted to go to the convention this year and couldn’t. This brings up a point I’ve been meaning to blog about for years and keep forgetting to.

When I was a guest at Orycon 2006, on top of interviewing Cory Doctorow I was on a lot of panels. I recorded 5 of the 6 panels I was on. At this point, the only thing I’ve ever done with those recordings was to excerpt a snippet of my closing remarks on one panel in an episode of EGC. However, I do have them and could always do something with them later.

The act of recording them was a pain in the ass – not technically which was very easy – but permission-wise. Every single time, I’d put my Marantz in the center of the table and tell the panelists I was recording. Every single panelist was cool with it every single time. After all, we are there to speak publicly and on the record so why wouldn’t we be? Every single time, though, some bristling occurred from the audience. They always wanted to know what I was doing with the recordings and why I was taping the session. It might have to do with the Oregonian contrarian nature because on the Heroes Con sessions they announce they are taping and no one says a word against it. I hope I don’t seem elitist and like I’m pulling rank but it always bugged me to get push back from the people whose contributions were limited and who might not even be able to be picked up on mic when the panelists were all cool with it.

This did lead me to a way to get around all the painful negotiations and explanations. I think SF and comic conventions should explicitly declare themselves, their grounds and the events that occur during their time period as Creative Commons licensed NonCommercial/ShareAlike/Attribution. Anyone can record via audio or video or photograph anything in public convention space and publish under those terms. 90% of this happens anyway. Flickr is full of photos of any such event you can think of. It just makes it easier and standard how to deal with the issue of recordings. It’s in the best interest of the conventions to spread their mindshare about what makes their shindig unique and this reduces the friction of that. If the convention declares this licensing regime upfront then everyone understand the terms going in.The convention as a whole is on the record and no one should have any issues. It just makes it simpler, and it frees the pros and fans up to do creative work without lots of overhead, which creative work is what they do.

I love the idea of video fanzines published via podcasting mechanisms. It’s the same urge that led to the mimeographs of last century, just realized via a different technology. Let’s make this happen. If you work with a convention, talk about this at the organizational meetings. I’d love to see this adopted around the place.